Eva splashed water on her face—and when she then looked down into her hands, she saw molten silver pouring out of faucet. It ran off her palms all shiny.
She gasped—twisting the tap off.
Looking in the mirror, she was afraid of what she might see. She froze. She could not believe her own eyes—for her very reflection was missing from sight.
She waved her hands back and forth, but she could not see herself. She covered her eyes with her hands—suddenly afraid to dare to look again.
A soft rap at the door forced her to peek—and in the mirror, she now saw French’s Forest from high above. The vast expanse of that mystical wooded crown stretched on for miles in all directions.
She found herself gliding through the air over the treetops—with her arms outstretched, soaring on the slinky strands of a cool current of air. Somehow, she felt at home up here, as if it were so natural.
Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she remembered this in a dream.
But then, the terror of flying so high finally unnerved her—as she began to feel uncomfortable in her own skin. She looked down and saw that she was naked, and her skin oozed over in a molten silver.
She cried out, when then suddenly there came a rap on the bathroom door, breaking her from her trance, snapping her back into reality. She fell against the sink, holding herself up, catching breath.
“Eva!? Are you okay?” Olin voiced a quiet concern from just outside the door.
“Going to be long?” he so inquired.
“Sorry—it’s a girl thing,” she fibbed.
Olin did not respond, but she could still hear him shuffling about at the door—and then the handle began rattling around, as if he were trying to break in.
“What are you doing?” she hissed.
She looked in the mirror to see the view of soaring down over the treetops, then swooping up high toward Miramar.
He gave no response, but continued rattling the handle—as his breathing grew troubled. He grunted and growled angrily.
In the mirror she swept up to the highest precipice of the mountain—then spiraled down around the far side—until settling into an air-stream over the Payne.
Meanwhile, back in the guest bedroom, Seven had fallen back to sleep—so he did not hear Olin in the hallway.
Instead, he dreamt about what he and Eva might have done that weekend instead of coming to French’s Forest.
He fancied they had hopped a plane to a tropical island paradise—far from haunted woods—far from any monster.
In his slumber, he stirred, murmuring in delight, as they sipped drinks on a quiet beach under the stars.
Life was never what he had imagined as a child, however, he also knew every oasis held its own problems.
But at least for those precious minutes that he drifted away on that isle of heaven, he and Eva could begin again.
Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Eva continued to stare into the mirror, transfixed by river as it passed under her, where she could see her silver reflection.
She once again became completely emersed in the vision, swooping down to get a closer look at herself—but the water came up faster than she had anticipated.
She could not pull out of the dive, instead skipping across the surface, before plunging under—and as she sank down, she snapped back out of that astral plane.
She regained consciousness to find herself on her back in the bath—with her knees up, legs splayed out, feet hooked either side of the tub. She felt very dizzy.
Silver water poured from the faucet.
She tried to move, but to her horror, she found that her body was paralyzed from the neck down. Her heart raced.
She tried to scream but no sound.
Olin hovered darkly over her now.
Her sharp distress was inexpressible.
He lifted her arm and let it splash down in the water—confirming her utter helplessness. He smiled now wickedly.
“Such a helpless fawn,” he uttered mockingly―bending to kiss her, baring his fangs. His eyes betrayed a silver glint.
She shook her head with pursed lips, looking him dead in the eye with a sharp disapproval. “Please, no … Olin… No …”
He kissed her—forcing his lips on hers—and when he did, his face changed to Faye’s visage. He cackled as Silverskin.
Eva’s dark half grinned, sucking the life from Eva’s mouth—as their lips fused. Eva could not breathe at all nor pull away.
Then just as the last light in Eva’s eyes began to dim, Faye pushed her head fully under water. She smiled evilly now.
She held Eva down to drown her.
Eva could not struggle, so feigned death by holding her breath. Then Faye produced a note from Her black locks—which she placed on lip of tub. It read:
Please forgive me, as I love you so—but I cannot go on living with the memories of what happened to us today.
While you were burning alive, you implied that you could love Her. So, since I could never bear to live without you—I have simply decided not to live at all.
Faye stepped silently out of the bathroom―quietly re-locking the door behind Her. She morphed back into Olin, before returning to his room for the night.
Meanwhile, Eva gasped under water releasing the last of her breath—still paralyzed and unable to resurface. She felt her soul drifting up out of her body.
The bottom of the tub became a black abyss beneath her, sucking her body down into its depths, as her soul floated up, pulling away from her Earthly shell.
Then just as she was now all but dead―as if by unseen hand―the tub plug was pulled free of the drain—and thus the water level fell, saving her in split time.
Her spirit then descended, as her body rose up to it, reuniting flesh and force—as she choked up water and huffed down air—returning to light, life and pain.
Soon she was able to climb out of the tub, but that alone was enough to wind her—and her voice was too weak to yell for help—so she just curled up on the cold tile floor there―and closed her eyes.
She slipped unconscious for a bit.
Meanwhile, the real Olin still lay in ropes with Aly, staring at the ceiling of her bedroom, as Faye cruelly played the scenes from Bane House as they unfolded.
“We’ve got to get out of here, Aly.”
“It’s no use, I cannot turn lizard.”
Olin also felt his powers were nil.
“She must have put a spell on us.”
“In our hearts, we fully submitted.”
“How do we break the trance then?”
Aly shook her head, thoughts racing.
Olin struggled hard against his ties.
Suddenly something occurred to Aly.
“Olin, this … This is NOT my room.”
“What? What do you mean, babe?”
“That picture over there … Those drapes of that color. This nightstand with the broken leg. These were from years ago. She’s patched this place together.”
“We are somewhere else but why?”
“In order to trap us here somehow.”
They closed their eyes tightly at the same time and opened them again, only to find themselves in the same false vision.
Olin tried some old incantations he had learned, while Aly imagined her most primal repitilian thoughts in hopes to shift.
Nothing they tried worked, however, until finally, in giving up, they reached out and held each other’s hands, tripping it.
Their bond of affection was enough to trigger Faye’s jealousy, shifting her focus, revealing their true locale to them.
They lay in tied a clearing in the long-grass, back in French’s Forest, not far from where Faye had taken their free will.
A perimeter of torches ablaze in blue encircled them, an enchanted fence caging them inside, causing their powerlessness.
When Eva came to in the tub, she looked around in confusion—unable to remember much of what had happened.
She rubbed her face in frustration—wondering what had possessed her to fall asleep in a tub—but she immediately swore off worrying Seven by telling him.
After a few minutes she sat up—and standing before the mirror—she saw how pale and haggard she looked. She looked as if she had seen a phantom of the dead.
She slowly waved one hand back and forth—watching as her reflection matched the movement. She remembered now flying over French’s Forest—but that was all that came back.
She turned to leave—not noticing that her reflection did not turn with her this time—but froze there, her dark self.
She slowly climbed back into bed.
Seven seemed sound asleep, as if he had been dreaming peacefully the entire time. She breathed a sigh of gratefulness.
She felt near despair―knowing already that she would be unable to fall into dreams anytime soon—on that night.
Finally—having had it with holding back—she rolled over, curling into Seven as he snored. Her fingers wandered up the back of his legs, making him murmur.
She felt around his waist and sides, slightly rousing him. Seven then swiftly awoke as his arousal mounted—and since his guard was down due to being fresh from sleep—he rolled on top of her, engorged with lust—kissing her now hard.
Snaking his tongue down the nape of her neck―stoking her into rapture―Eva arched her back, passionately gasping.
He felt the powers of the Forest surging in him―and the urge to bite her neck rose to his lips―but he resisted.
Their crushing energies unsettled the wood itself. For miles around Bane House their magnetic attraction disturbed every leaf and branch, animal and man.
Kinetic rings of emotion rippled out from their climactic union, spreading across French’s Forest―turning every pointed ear back toward their origin point.
Every dark creature of night was now aware of their presence—and Seven knew Faye’s fury and rage would surely soon now cast terrible pall over the world.
Meanwhile, Aly and Olin still struggled to free themselves from their bonds in the woods. They held hands.
They had learned Faye could not hold sway over them so long as their love was strong, so they focused on the other.
They looked into each other’s eyes and actually remembered their early romances, rekindling their truest passions.
This was enough to rattle Faye’s concentration long as it took to get out of their ropes and break loose of the torches.
They ran across the field in the direction of Bane House to help Seven and Eva escape the clutches of terrible Faye.
Back at Bane House then, Olin’s doppleganger counterpart, being played by the Silverskin, vanished into thin air.
Olin would not let this wood witch get away with what She was doing. He urged Aly onward so that they ran faster.
Every second counted, but when the time came, he would make the right moves to atone his name and win the day.
Aly, also, right by his side, had realigned with him, sensing his renewed moral compass and new passion for her.
Somehow, through their tribulation, they had come closer together, and remembered what it was to be grateful.
As they ran they both ruminated separately and together on how it often took a trainwreck to make new tracks.
(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)